Lawyers Demand Rethink To ‘Unfair’ Eligibility Criteria For Mobility Support

Court Of Appeal Hears Concerns Regarding Policy On New PIP System

20.07.2015

Specialist public lawyers have challenged the implementation of the Government’s new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) benefits system, which will mean more than 500,000 disabled people are frozen out of getting key support for their mobility needs,  in a hearing in the Court of Appeal.

Under the new arrangements, the maximum distance that claimants must be able to walk to be eligible has been cut from 50 metres to just 20 metres.

It is thought that the change will mean that over half of those who would have been entitled to the higher rate of mobility support under Disability Living Allowance as a result of physical problems with getting around will not receive the enhanced rate under the new benefit.

As a result of an earlier challenge the Government consulted on the implementation of the scheme, however legal experts at Irwin Mitchell returned to the Court of Appeal with further concerns that the current proposals remain unfair.

Alastair Wallace, the specialist public lawyer at Irwin Mitchell who is acting in the case, said: “Without access to support, people with mobility issues can face an incredibly difficult situation where they not only lose their independence but also ultimately become isolated from the communities where they live.”

Irwin Mitchell’s lead client in this case is Steven Sumpter, 36, from Evesham in Worcestershire, who receives Disability Living Allowance as a result of his long-term health problems caused by mitochondrial disease. However, due to the criteria, he may not be eligible for the enhanced level of mobility support when he is moved to PIP in 2016.

He said: “Without access to support, I would be unable to do a huge number of activities that many people take for granted.

“I can only walk a short distance with the aid of a stick and otherwise need wheelchair support. If the support was to be removed, I would lose my Motability vehicle and this would mean I’d struggle to access local amenities may take for granted – such as supermarkets.

“I need this benefit to get by on a basic day-to-day level and the government policy on eligibility would massively affect my quality of life.”

Judgment was reserved following a hearing last week.